Jesus descended into hell


What does it mean in the Apostle’s Creed when it states that Jesus “descended into hell”? I’ve heard several explanations 1) Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days and nothing more, 2) Jesus actually descended into the place of eternal damnation, and 3) Jesus went to be with all those saintly people who had died and were waiting for Jesus to open Heaven (Limbo if you will). What was the purpose of this?

Thanks and God Bless You,
Quaere Verum
Seek the Truth


Your No. 3 is correct. Jesus did not descend into the hell of the damned. He descended to the abode of the dead. His mission was to those good people who had gone before, to whom his sacrifice would also be applied. He had a mission to them as well as to those of his own and future generations. The details are not provided to us, but he did come to preach to the souls in “limbo” or the “limbo of the fathers” and open the gates of heaven to them.


I’ll confirm what JimG wrote, but also add that Scott Hahn has an excellent talk on purgatory in which he shows that Gehenna is actually divided into two sections: The hell of the damned, and the hell of the saved, or purgatory. So Jesus descended into hell to preach to the saved, and then lead them triumphantly into heaven. Remember, no one can enter heaven except through Jesus (He is the way, or door), so until He opened the gates of heaven, the saved waited in limbo.


Thanks guys! That was my choice.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit